The Dosadi Experiment: Herbert’s best non-Dune book

The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert

The Dosadi Experiment is part of a series on Saboteur Extraordinary Jorj X. McKie consisting of two pieces of short fiction, A Matter of Traces (1958) and The Tactful Saboteur (1964), and two novels. The first novel is Whipping Star, which appeared in 1970. It was followed seven years later by this book. The books and stories can be read independently -- in fact, that is what I did first time around -- but, after reading the novels in the proper order I have to say you get a bit more out of them that way. The Dosadi Experiment is a dense piece of writing -- revelations and insights follow each other in rapid succession. With the background on the species and the universe provided in Whipping Star it is a bit easier to read.

I thi... Read More

The Ringworld Engineers: Boring sequel

The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven

In 1970 Larry Niven published Ringworld, a high-concept novel that won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. What mostly captured readers’ imaginations was not RIngworld’s characters or plot, but its setting. The Ringworld is a huge (and I mean HUGE) artificial ring-shaped structure that orbits a star outside of Known Space. Nobody knows who built it or for what reason it was built. The protagonist of the story, Louis Wu, a bored 200 year old human from Earth, is invited on a quest to visit and study the Ringworld. As I mentioned in my review, I thought the novel was talky and a bit dull, but I absolutely loved the Ringworld itself.

Larry Niven didn’t plan to write a sequ... Read More

Deryni Checkmate: Church vs. State

Deryni Checkmate by Katherine Kurtz

Deryni Checkmate, first published in 1972, is the second novel in Katherine Kurtz’s epic fantasy series that’s set in a world called Gwynedd (loosely based our own medieval UK) where some people have inherited magic from a race called the Deryni which has interbred with normal humans. The church of Gwynedd considers magic anathema and is using its wealth, power, and influence to rid the world of Deryni magic. Thus, Kurtz’s story is clearly inspired by our own middle ages when the Roman Catholic Church dominated Western religious and political systems and, having strayed from its Biblical roots, lorded it over the political leaders and the rest of the citizenry.

In the previous novel, Deryni Rising (1970), we met young King Kelson who ascended the throne after his father wa... Read More

The Guns of Avalon: Never trust a relative

The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny

Warning, from me: If you haven’t read Nine Princes in Amber yet, don’t read this review.

Another warning, from Corwin:  “Never trust a relative. It is far worse than trusting strangers.”

Corwin has escaped from his brother’s prison and he’s ready for revenge. He doesn’t have the manpower that Eric has, so he needs a technological advantage. Traditional firearms don’t work in Amber, but Corwin once noticed that a jewelers’ rouge from the shadow world of Avalon, where he used to rule, is combustible in Amber. So here’s his plan: get some money (pretty easy to do when you can create your own worlds), purchase a huge amount of jeweler’s rouge, and commission some custom-made firearms that use the rouge to shoot silver bullets (he’s not sure other metals will work). Oh, and raise an army. No problem!

The problem... Read More